Rising cost of living could lead to more burglaries and blackmail, police chiefs have warned
British police fear a sharp rise in certain categories of crime and the risk of civil unrest this winter amid a cost of living and energy crisis, The Sunday Times reports, citing a leaked national strategy document.
The document compiled by the police chiefs warns that “Economic Troubles and Financial Instability” may lead to an increase in crimes such as shoplifting, burglary, vehicle theft, online fraud and blackmail. More children are likely to join drug gangs and more women may be victims of sexual exploitation.
Contingency planning is reportedly underway to deal with the possible fallout from the cost of living crisis.
“Prolonged and painful economic pressure” could create a risk of “greater civil unrest”, similar to the London riots of 2011, according to the newspaper.
The police themselves may also be affected. “Greater financial vulnerability may put some staff at higher risk of corruption, particularly among those who are in debt or experiencing financial difficulties,” said the newspaper.
The grim prediction was revealed the day before the UK finds out the name of its new Prime Minister. Both candidates, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pledged to take decisive action to tackle soaring energy costs.
While Sunak promised targeted support for the poorest in society, favorite Truss did not reveal details of her strategy.
Officials have been busy with contingency planning. According to the Financial Times, officials in Whitehall are now compiling stocks of carbon paper to reproduce documents in the worst-case scenario of winter blackouts.
The Daily Mail reported that this winter could see people told not to cook before 8 p.m. and not to use washing machines or dishwashers between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. as part of energy rationing. Pubs could be ordered to close at 9 p.m. and schools could switch to three-day weeks.
The energy crisis in Europe has been exacerbated by the sanctions imposed on Moscow following the Ukrainian conflict and by a reduction in Russian supplies of natural gas. Although the UK is not directly dependent on Moscow for fuel, it is still suffering. The typical annual household fuel bill is expected to reach around £3,500 from October, three times more than last year. According to the latest report from the Bank of England, inflation will rise to 13% in October and from the fourth quarter of this year the UK is expected to fall into recession.
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